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Can National's election campaign centre on eroding trust in Labour without harming the Covid-19 public health response?

Can National's election campaign centre on eroding trust in Labour without harming the Covid-19 public health response?
Press Gallery pool photo.

National won’t fight to win the election. Rather, it will try to make Labour lose.

With legitimate flaws around Covid-19 testing and the management of the border coming to light, National has a whole heap of material to attack the Government over.

It’s fulfilling its duty, holding the Government to account.

National’s health spokesperson Shane Reti made a sensible response to a ministerial statement in the House on Tuesday and got Health Minister Chris Hipkins to concede he received weekly Ministry of Health updates that demonstrated “incomplete testing at the border”.

But rather than do the difficult task of putting forward a compelling case as to how it would get the same group of public servants to do a better job at the frontline, National is opting to erode confidence in the Government.

Its response doesn’t shout, “Vote for National!” It whispers, “Can you really trust Labour?”

National is trying to win back support lost to Labour by casting doubt on its capability and integrity.

This is understandable, but National’s approach risks becoming dangerous when A. It involves misleading information, and B. We’re in the midst of a pandemic.

Of course, the Government’s response needs to be critiqued, but at a basic level, the situation is virus vs. human. Some degree of cohesion among members of “Team Human” is required.

It’s fair for National to try to undermine the Government, but it cannot undermine public health in the process.

A qualified apology 

National's deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee, has come very close to doing so on two occasions.

As New Zealanders last week found out there was transmission of Covid-19 in the community, Brownlee made people question whether the Government had known something the rest of us didn’t.  

He said the Prime Minister’s trip to a mask factory, discussions about mask-wearing and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield getting tested for Covid-19 were “an interesting series of facts”.

In the face of accusations that he was dog whistling to conspiracy theorists, Brownlee pulled back a little. But it was too late. He’d thrown the grenade, legitimising the circulation of nasty rumours.

When quizzed about this on Tuesday, Brownlee said he apologised on Newstalk ZB, but wouldn’t clear the air by making a straight-forward apology in front of a press pack.

"I've said I'm sorry people have taken it as being some kind of conspiracy accusation, it was never meant to be like that," he said.

But Brownlee didn’t walk away from what he insinuated last week, instead saying, "Well I just think that it's interesting that the man at the top of the tree was, at 102 days of clear, suddenly wanting to get tested.”

Brownlee hasn’t provided evidence of government ministers and apolitical public servants hiding knowledge of Covid-19 community transmission from New Zealanders.

Until he does, his comments are stoking distrust in authorities as they try to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Media - an easy target

Adding fuel to the fire, Brownlee on Monday night tried to discredit the media, which had spent days dispelling rumours circulated on social media about how Covid-19 spread to the community.

An email, sent to National supporters in Brownlee’s name, said: “But with endless wall to wall coverage, the deep resources of government, and a favourable media, it is hard for anyone not to see Labour have the cards stacked in their favour.”

Challenged by media on Tuesday for implying reporters were somehow biased, Brownlee said, "The reality is that the Prime Minister is on the airwaves every day at one o'clock if she chooses to be and the initiatives that are coming from Government are going to be covered more extensively.”

He didn’t accept there was a difference between this and his statement that the media had provided “favourable” coverage.

Brownlee couldn’t provide examples of this “favourable” coverage, saying reporters were being “precious”.

The Peters playbook

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters has for some time taken a similar approach, attacking the media.

Furthermore, he on Tuesday again waded into murky territory, saying there have now been two “security breaches” at the border, when in fact the source of the first Auckland cluster is unknown.

Asked to explain how exactly Covid-19 came through the border, Peters said this was a question that “wasn’t worth answering”.

“It’s not a rumour. I’m saying it’s been fact,” he said.

Peters last week did an interview with international media, claiming the Auckland cluster came from a border breach without providing evidence. Like Brownlee’s comment, this comment preceded a weekend of wild rumours.

Peters went on to distance New Zealand First from these supposed border breaches, saying, “I’m not in charge of that. None of my colleagues of New Zealand First are in charge of those issues. Other ministers have to explain to you what happened there.”

You could argue this writer is getting caught up in semantics and defensive of her industry, which is far from perfect, but discrediting the media on top of providing unverified information is particularly dangerous at a time the media has a particularly important job to hold authorities to account and provide essential information.

It’s also concerning as all political parties (including Labour) increasingly side-step the scrutiny of the media and connect directly with voters via social media.

Labour open for attack

Labour has left itself open to stone-throwing from the Opposition, and its coalition partner, by making the election a referendum on its handling of Covid-19.

Without much policy yet, it's no wonder the Opposition has jumped at the opportunity to nail it over Covid-19 finding its way into the community.

But without, at this stage at least, providing a cohesive plan around how it would do better, National's messaging is "Don't vote Labour", more than it is, "Do vote National".

Simon Bridges’ negativity frustrated the public. But National must be of the mind the public's tolerance for Covid-19 is wearing thin and it's time to capitalise on any rising tides of discontent, particularly as job losses start to bite. 

Even if people don't believe the rumours, or buy into the unsubstantiated insinuations in Brownlee and Peters' comments, an accumulation of this rhetoric over the next two months could give new Jacinda Ardern converts cold feet. 

At the very least, it puts a contest of ideas even further out of sight.

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This government has failed to deliver on everything they promised to do over the last 3 years, Ardern chose to make it the "Covid Election"


They factually haven't "failed to deliver on everything they promised", so....


And yet, she wants other parties to refrain from politicising COVID-19.

You can't have it both ways, Comrade.

So Jacinda gets to go live TV pro Labour on CV and then not want to politicise it?
Exactally, you can't have it both ways.

I don't think National's approach of sitting back and waiting for Labour to screw up and at the same time not haveing forward moving plans in place is going to work.
People are scared, who do the masses gravitate towards, scary JC or hugging Jacinda? No brainer if you don't look into this deeper than the surface but none of them have anything below the surface anyway.

You're probably right, but sOOOoooo Soooooo s00000oooooooo MANY people were disenfranchised during National's 9 years in power - they just can't bring themselves to vote for Big Blue [IBM reference].

Unfortunately for the National Party faithful, all they can offer are airy promises of roads towards the end of this decade - which are dependent on them still being in power for said decade. Oh .. and 'burning the RMA in a trash can' - which they failed to do for 9 years.

Ummmmm yeah - good luck .. Act is their only hope.

National's problems are serious:

1. Dirty Politics leadership, and Gerry the conspiracy theorist.

2. The earlier appearances of being too beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.

3. They've already suggested on multiple occasions they wish to start selling off NZ land to foreign ownership again, just as food security and geopolitical issues are coming to the fore.

4. They don't seem to have anything to offer younger Kiwi voters, beyond generic "good at business, strong team, roads".


Yes, good article, Jenee. And the problem is one inherent for any governing party or coalition. Namely, that getting one's intent or desire as a minister translated into action by underlings in the public service (or in contracted private providers) is a form of 'Chinese whispers', with room for interpretation, delay etc. National would have exactly the same departments and personnel to work with as Labour. And part of the problem probably is that we have spent decades making the public sector and its employees risk averse, which means cautious, which means slow to make decisions because everything has to be checked with others and go through committees - and those processes don't work so well with the management of response to a tricky and insidious little virus. And even when we (humans) put all the protocols and procedures known to medical science into place, it seems that doesn't guarantee that that little strand of RNA wont do its think of replicating and multipying.

True there is an element of “risk averse” but that can be attributed to, more predominantly and imbued, a culture of unaccountability. The public service, at national and local government level, are far too present with authority and far too absent with responsibility.

Indeed. And let's not forget that one of the COL's first actions once in power was to dismantle the score-keeping, especially of healthcare metrics like procedures performed. There's been three long years of muddling along without clear targets, and now the lack of actionable KPI's has come back to haunt 'em.....Because the discipline of keeping to targets. or having a damn good reason why undershoots occurred, has leaked away in the place it matters - in the public service itself: those tasked with Doing the Mahi. That lackadaisical culture has spread like - er - Covid - right through the public sector, and we are all the poorer for it.....

Yep but as an investor it makes life a lot easier.
Labour will win.
There will be more outbreaks.
Cash pumped into the system.
More non delivery / mismanagement.
The economy will take massive hits.
More cash pumped into the system.

We aren't going to change the system and I'm certinally not relying on Labour helping me personally, so I may as well look after #1 and profit from the debacle.

Isn't that what investors do. I look after myself first. But doesn't mean I want to sell off NZ and increase house prices to the detriment of others.

National has ruined NZ they have backstabbers for leaders and now start conspiracy theories that can jeopardize peoples health.

There is no clear plan from National to help all NZers out, other then whingeing.

It's probably a case of minimising costs, really.

Moving quickly to achieve something is more expensive than achieving the same outcome over a longer period of time.

It appears that the government had had several sweeps where all staff at some of the MIQ facilities were tested, but it wasn't yet on a frequent schedule.

A reporter asked Hipkins yesterday why Air NZ international air crew were staying at the same hotel as members of the public, to which his answer is that they're separated from the public. But under health and safety controls Elimination of a hazard is preferable to Isolation, and in this case the Elimination control would be to use a separate hotel. But that would cost more.


Call it conspiracy theory or whatever you wish, but the recent facts are still alarming. There was no doubt that JA was the public’s darling and Labour would win the election, probably with a majority on its own. Any failings by Labour over the past 3 years were forgotten, they were doing a great job protecting us all from the virus. Only a few weeks to go until the election, plenty of money handouts and other financial hocus-pocus to keep the pending economic carnage well away from the public’s eye until after the election, then JA/Labour could pull the tax cards out of the hat. This after all, was a just a COVID-19 election.

While the left hand was bragging about how well the country was doing, keeping the virus at bay with no community transmission for well over 3 months, the other left hand was playing a slight-of-hand card game. Labour knew only too well that all they needed was the public to concentrate on keeping safe from the virus, and they would win the election hands down. The virus being maintained as front page news was clearly key to winning the election with ease.

But, there were still 6 weeks to go, and ACT/National were starting to rumble, and may still be able to do some damage. Then while the government was bragging about how well they were doing with no community transmission, suddenly we were warned about the risk of a second wave. Suddenly we were advised to have a supply of masks at home and practice wearing them. The government even suggested the possibility of having a mask day, so the country could practice virus safety with their families. Even Dr Bloomfield suddenly took a virus test up his nose.

Then National started to campaign, and suddenly the virus re-appeared. Suddenly JA/Labour forced various degrees of lockdown upon the team of 5 million once again. The other parties could no longer campaign, surprise, surprise. If anyone genuinely believes that all of the above actions by JA/Labour had nothing to do with attempting to bulldoze win the election on the back of virus scaremongering, then God help this country.


Smokin' gun,

For conspiracy theorists like you, there is always a smoking gun. Pull your head out of the social media garbage can and do some fact-checking.

Is your earth flat?

Facts are facts. Perhaps you should familiarise yourself with the principles of Occam’s razor. I assume your comment about the earth being flat is slight of hand.


Occam's Razor doesn't really apply to conspiracy theories, given that conspiracy theories universally rely on superfluous assumptions.


Occam's razor in this case would say it was a government being cautious, concerned that the country was taking COVID for granted, and that the government hadn't implemented robust enough policies to detect an incursion of the virus. Then those things happened at coincidentally the same time.

Any other story of conspiracy you're alleging is a more complicated explanation which would be rejected by Occam's razor.

Don't ascribe to malace that which is best attributed to incompetence. After all, the conspiracy you're alleging would require a more organised government, wouldn't it?

Good comment, the problem with conspiracy theories is they always flatter someone/group to an unbelievable degree.


You're not the first person to think this is entirely too coincidental. It's why my husband and I made up our minds quite early on to NOT vote Labour this election. They can delay all they want, try to scare us all they want, and we will still not vote Labour. They have not saved us, and for those going "oh looky, overall deaths have fallen in NZ"....well, yeah immediate deaths from things like road toll are down because no one could drive. But wait for the uptick in suicides from longterm stress, cancer deaths, and other health related deaths to occur over the next few years. We've only delayed the inevitable, not skipped it entirely.

It's like the extension to the mortgage holiday til March 2021 - those people that take it (and have taken it) still have to face the consequences, delaying only makes those consequences worse. Think of the stress of knowing that your mortgage is only growing, think of the stress of trying to find a job to pay the bills, think of the stress as you cut every expense going and having to explain to the kids why you have no furniture in the house because it was the last thing you could think of to sell, think of the stress in watching those around you get out early and wondering if you should too, think of the stress created as your mind goes around and around and you end up in analysis paralysis and then can't see a way out. Make the decision yourself early or the consequences of delay will make it for you.

Labour have merely delayed the consequences by locking us up and throwing money at the issues created due to that. We will have the virus come through at some future stage (is that now, who knows), we will have to have the conversation of managing our lives around it and locking away those who believe themselves vulnerable. We can delay it all we want, but we will face the consequences of their decisions.


It was National who wanted the election delayed, not Labour.

But wait for the uptick in suicides from longterm stress, cancer deaths, and other health related deaths to occur over the next few years. We've only delayed the inevitable, not skipped it entirely

But that's not the counterfactual. You're trying to compare a reality where no COVID happened, to one where COVID happened and was eliminated from the country.

The actual comparators are where COVID happened and it was eliminated, or COVID happened and it was left to run amok to some degree. Sweden has had just as bad economic impact as it's neighbours and they have a far better prepared health system than we do.

James Shaw said the choices were between a recession with people dying, or a recession without people dying.

Shamubeel Eaqub's analysis is that our approach so far has kept the economy in better shape than the alternative

So not only have we had fewer car crashes and fewer deaths from respiratory illnesses (story on Stuff today), it is likely that we will also have fewer suicides and long-term stress over the next few years compared to the alternative because our economy is in better shape. There's also evidence that 80% of people who contract COVID end up with some form of heart damage, and who knows what that is going to develop to over the next decade - we've avoided that too.

Shit would have hit the fan no matter who is in charge. If Bill English had been there's no way we would have shut the border with travellers from China as soon as we did - National and education providers were whining about how unfair it was. We likely would have had COVID cases sooner than we did, and it's practically impossible to imagine how it would have played out with National in charge.

Given shit was going to hit the fan regardless, on the evidence available at present, it appears the elimination strategy is actually the best one for *us* given the circumstances *we* found ourselves in.

I have no doubt the response would have been the same no matter who was in power. It would have looked and felt different but the outcome the same. Shamubeel Eaqub is celebrity economist who loves to talk a big game. But just like most economists, he is a glorified tarot card reader in a suit.

It's like the extension to the mortgage holiday til March 2021 - those people that take it (and have taken it) still have to face the consequences, delaying only makes those consequences worse. Think of the stress of knowing that your mortgage is only growing, think of the stress of trying to find a job to pay the bills

Well, right there's a problem. Younger generations have faced very similar problems as National perpetuated and nurtured the housing crisis over the last decade, but there was little said about that.

Moreover, the key point you miss is that analyses so far have NOT shown better economic outcomes for places that haven't locked down, while some analyses have highlighted worse economic outcomes.

"Little was said about that" It was literally top-of-the-bulletin news every time a price index came out. Weirdly, despite prices still rising under the current government, we don't hear much about that any more. Or the massive blowout in the waiting lists, despite it being massively unacceptable under National when it was literally half the size it is now. Why is that, I wonder?

Clearly we are discussing different audiences then, if your criticism is that I've missed commenting from X audiences while also saying you're missing commenting from Y audience now. The audience / commenters I referred to are those who never seemed to worry about massive debt when it was only something that could be passed to future generations, but now it looks likely to affect current generations suddenly see it as an issue (e.g. Bridges going from a government where no housing crisis existed to worrying about "mortgaging our children and grandchildren's future"...and comments like those above).

Moreover, if you're missing commenting these days about house prices and the central supporting and

Apologies, misclicked report this instead of reply.

No, there is nowhere near the same level of scrutiny. We don't have RNZ running stories about housing waiting lists and chastising Ministers for not commenting on them. I guess I'd also consider it particularly aggravating given Labour a) repeatedly promised Kiwibuild at price points that were unrealistic, b) doubled-down when challenged on this across multiple elections, c) immediately raised those price points once elected, d) failed to deliver on the houses and abandoned the targets and e) promoted the minister who presided over this ridiculous state of affairs. But don't worry, I'm sure there'll be another 'reset' or whatever that you can use to bat away any criticisms of house prices continuing to rise, which was apparently the scandal of the century when Labour was in opposition and had all that time to come up with a credible plan but didn't.

RNZ on housing waiting lists, from a cursory search:

Agree that KiwiBuild has under delivered. Will be interesting to see what they do if they are elected without Winston. Don't think I'd argued anywhere that KiwiBuild was massively successful to date.

How's trying to increase housing supply and underachieving equivalent to crocodile tears over mortgaging our children and grandchildren's future?

Will be interesting to see how they approach KiwiBuild if they don't need Winston First. Given the RBNZ's wealth transfers I don't think there's any moral issue with them massively increasing housing supply without making any profit.

Such a ball of sunshine...


This government has made mistakes in its handling of this virus and should of course be held to account, but you couldn't pay me to vote for National. The behaviour of Brownlee has been despicable and that of his boss, not much better. They have descended to gutter politics and I hope that the voters will 'reward' them with political oblivion.


When the new team to replace the ill fated Muller was announced I made the comment that the problems for the new leader would commence at her # 2. It was a retrograde step signalling the opposite of a fresh approach and a new direction. And so it has proved to be. Mr Brownlee is a politician of the “blow the man down“ persona. EQ claimants in Canterbury can give due testament to that and so too does the report by Dame Cartwright of EQC’s punitive and reprehensible operation under his direction. The leopard hasn’t changed its spots, they have only got bigger.

Labour a paying people to vote for them.

Good article by Jenee. I thought her last sentance was quite interesting. The electorate has been completely starved of policy ideas by both main parties. Hard to have an informed debate about policy in a policy vacuum. There should be a mandatory release date set

It's becoming clear that none of them have a plan, it's all just stuffing their fingers into the leaks in the dyke.
Scary times.

"It’s fair for National to try to undermine the Government, but it cannot undermine public health in the process."

In reality, by seeking to undermine the Government, National has strengthened public health.

Until National highlighted the Government's failing, we didn't have anything remotely resembling a rigorous testing regime for staff at the border, or in MIQ facilities.

National didn't highlight that. The media did. Specifically Michael Morrah.

Yes, but it is still the case that the Government is now desperately trying to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted because of pressure from the opposition.

Um, no.


Invstigative journalist Michael Morrah exposed routine testing for at risk workers wasn’t happening, as promised. That testing then started and found the Rydges case; he thought his cough was a pre-existing condition. If it hadn’t been for Mike’s stories, this case may not have been found. Thank you.


Exactly, to say that National have been the one's to hold this government to account is being very generous....favourable media my only has to listen to the diatribe spouted by Hoskings, Garner, Du Plessis, Richardson, Soper, Williams..... name me one left-wing shock jock to counter this?

Ah, a handful of journalists. Definitely the sum total of the media as a whole. Meanwhile, RNZ continues to hold National in opposition to a higher standard than the ball-dropping Government for their Covid19 response, and Jack Tame talks over Collins in an interview while letting the Greens spout off about nonsense like 'tax is love' unchallenged. I guess they must be tired from all that looking the other way while the Government climbed down from every single flagship policy with almost no fanfare over the last three years, while breathlessly reporting every time some overseas outlet said something glowing about Jacinda.

Of the episodes I have seen of Q&A,Jack talks over everyone except Winston Peters who waffled off an immense amount of rhetoric that certainly confused me. However, he is generous with his panel guests.

Perhaps if Judith answered the damn question the first time around he wouldn't need to interrupt her waffle. Jesus, Judith had to be asked 8 times by Tova if she would accept the election result in October? Did you not see Tame's interview with Hipkins during the same show, hardly a softball interview by any means. And Hipkins got schooled (much the same way Judith did) by Kim Hill also. Last time I checked Tame doesn't have 3 hours every morning to spew right-wing opinionated material

I can't recall the last time anyone suggested that an NZ politician might not 'accept an election result' in an allusion to Trump laying the framework to protest his own defeat. It's such a stupid question in a New Zealand context that both Ardern or Collins have equal cause to be asked it, and equal leeway to probably to be put completely on the spot by how ridiculous it is. If I were an MP in NZ and was asked it I'm not quite sure I'd know what to say, other than "Are you ****ing serious?".

So the correct answer is "Yes of course. Next question?". Collins didn't do that. Why?

Ah yes, it's clearly because she's planning a military coup, and definitely not because she was caught on the hop by perhaps the stupidest question you could ask an NZ MP. Happy? Maybe they should ask Jacinda if she's stopped beating her wife yet - it would make about as much sense.

Or she could have just given a straight forward answer and moved on, since she's been around the media (and Tova) long enough to know how they will turn it into a beat up.

So either she's stupid, or she's stupid.

Right out of the Forrest Gump talking book, Lanthanide.

It was a weird questions that was a clearly being used as a setup to some agenda driven gotcha headline from a hostile journo. From it's weirdness Collins could see that there was some premeditated trap being laid, but likely imagined it was something more subtle and so avoided providing Tova the answer she was obviously aiming for (likely "Collins denies she would not accept election" or somesuch beatup). Collins whole adult life has been in law and politics, so of course she respects the rule of law, probably more so than most, to suggest that she is a despot in waiting is just appalling mud-raking.

Journalists is a stretch. Paid shills more like it. And you full well know that group has a huge disproportionate influence within the mainstream media.

Kim Hill. She wouldn't let Collins answer her questions. Rude as and left biased.

Kim gave her plenty of time to answer the question asked. Collins kept refusing to answer the question asked, so Kim kept pushing for an answer *to the question she asked*.

Nothing biased about that at all. It's a pity more interviewers don't do it.

Does Kim give Adern the same treatment??? Adern often does not answer the question.

Find an example of Kim Hill interviewing Ardern where she doesn't answer the question, then, if this happens 'often'.

That explains why all those Kiwibuild houses and all that light rail got built - the media scrutiny.

Its a shame Labour had to divert its resources to fixing up things like hospitals and paying teachers and nurses that had been left in the lurch for nine years.

Richardson said this morning on AM show the Auckland players for the North vs South game are going to mysteriously be in Wellington for the match without going through the protocols.
I had to switch channels, immediately.

The more you try to push selfishness of individuals over others, the more you have to revert to dis-ingenuousness. A generation on from the Douglas 'screw everyone for 5% of their equity' 1984 moment, this dis-ingenuousness is fully parked in the National Party. Labour have swung markedly towards looking after EVERYONE - a distinct POD.

The malaise shows up here, with malicious insinuations that outbreaks are happening where they are not. That can only worry those who are immuno-compromised, an unacceptable outcome. National need a re-set. Forwards, not backwards. Relevant, not elite-nurturing (and thus spin-requiring). Tangled webs....


You don't get it.

Labour hasn't swung markedly towards looking after EVERYONE, they simply have aspirations to do so.

The problem is that the Government is a poorly led, talentless shambles.

Ardern is still just feels and fairy dust.

You are allowing bias to show through


Yes, but so is Comrade Lanthanide :)

National turned me off a long time ago. They haven't learnt from the latter tenure of John Key. He was great when he first came into parliament, I voted for him and National prior
but he knew the writing was on the wall that he would never win another term and resigned giving 7 days notice. That was a shock in itself let alone the devastation he left behind.
National has slumbered ever since his departure. It is going to be a long time before they get the confidence of the majority of kiwis again.

He came with several great ambitions and he primarily achieved his greatest ambition: his childhood goal to be Prime Minister.

Not to mention inflating property prices so he can flick of his house for 20 mill, give or take. Nice little earner that prime minister lark.

Imagin Labour without Jacinda....

I think Grant Robinson or Chris Hipkins could take her place. It will be interesting to see how long she stays in the role. I would say three terms, same as John Key although she might want to increase her family numbers so might say goodbye at the end of 2023.

She's 40 at present. She shouldn't and I doubt she will wait till 43 plus.
GR and CH don't cut the mustard.
No Jacinda no Labour, they would fall apart.

Let's wait and see shall we.....its a long time away.
No one is indispensable.


Jennee. It's not a conspiracy theory to question the governments news management. It's what we want from an opposition - but it's not a conspiracy.
A worker in an isolation hotel is labeled "a mystery". Good try, but it was repeated.
Hipkins. Shoved out in front now the news is bad. Ardern not there. Most watching the tele don't notice that switcheroo.
Pointing those out is not conspiracy theory.

Hipkins. Shoved out in front now the news is bad. Ardern not there.

Or maybe she's not there because National kept bleating about how unfair it was that she got so much air time prior to an election?

Funny how the switch was made as it became apparent that we had community transmission though?

A valid question, but ultimately is no more of an opinion than OPs, or any of the other ones raised.

The PM's emotional reponses are her strength, but also her weakness. When being interviewed the few days, the PMs body language, manner, and tone is eerily similar to the other times she has been pressured when in the wrong.

The incompetence is starting to shine through bright and clear now, and we all know that politics is all about optics. Is it any wonder Labour are trying to shield their most prized asset?

Great supporters of the PM discuss her wonderful communications.

No mention of brilliant thinking and ideas.
No mention of skill in selecting & drawing wonderful talent of her team.
No mention of deep diplomacy.
No mention of effective arrangement & structure of delivery teams.
No mention of celebration of successful policy delivery.

One view is that communications are wonderful when unanchored to reality unteathered to empirical evidence.

Generating feelings, unattached, float free until each person in the contact area imbibes and then attaches them to their own world view.

The cognitive dissonance is when the empirical evidence, the broader reality catches up.

In times of crisis, clear public communications are as important as any of those things.

Lan, Thank you for proving the thesis.

I don't consider myself a "great supporter of the PM". Just giving you the standard wisdom about crisis management.

oh - you are a supporter , you are just not great at it ..

But not a substitute for those things, which is exactly what we have now.

Personally I don't find her that good of a communicator. Her tone, mannerisms, and verbose statements aren't my cup of tea.

She skips a lot of imprtant facts, and relies heavily on emotional language and soundbites (Ironically I think the same of Trump's orating style).

She is very emotional, in times of sadness this is good (Think Chch shootings). But in times of global pandemic, I think a bit more stability and a factual approach are better (à la Dr Bloomfield)

She's talking to the great unwashed masses, and she does it well.

Her role is to the figurehead and the leader and to get the public on side with the collective approach we need to succeed at the task at hand. Her role isn't to be there to give the concrete facts and specific details - that's Bloomfield's role.

Good thing we have both, unlike many countries that have neither.

She is the Prime Minister, her job is to absolutely deal in concrete facts - as much as an inconvenience as that may be for her or the Jacinda-stans. The "What I'm saying is happening and you can trust that because I'm saying it" bit doesn't fly anymore.

I think you are raising a wider debate on what makes a good leader. I agree she doesn't need to be a factual robot answering complex questions, but she should be able to if required, or at the very least not contradict/undermine those that can.

I would say no countries have a truly good leader. Including us.

Your comment about the great unwashed, makes me think she is ever more like Trump. While they may have opposing ideologies, they both claim to make things better for the masses, but anything they do try turns to custard, and ultimately the ones that suffer the most are the ones that voted for them. Then when confronted they take offense easily and fire back some emotive soundbite.

The USA at least have some proven systems of checks and balances in place to mitigate the damage. What do we have? Winston?

Looking like Winston will not be there and we'll have the Greens.
Brilliant, grab the popcorn and sit back and watch the bumbling commence.

"No mention of brilliant thinking and ideas.
No mention of skill in selecting & drawing wonderful talent of her team.
No mention of deep diplomacy.
No mention of effective arrangement & structure of delivery teams.
No mention of celebration of successful policy delivery."

And this can be applied to Judith bwahaha.

And to anyone in the conspiracy party, with aspirations of making NZ un-affordable to NZers.

I think you are right. The lack of transparency from Govt, has eroded trust in them (This applies to the last couple of decades - although the current Labour are the only ones to have campaigned on "Transparency")

The lack of trust, leads most individuals to start questioning things and developing other theories. It is hardly conspiratorial. Simply human nature.

Yes some of the theories are whacko, but a lot of the supposed whacko ones, are slowly but surely being proven correct. Think about "Closed" border, Lack of testing, Staff coming into contact with infected, escapees, no masks, etc...

Many people (even here) demand people to report things to the media/officials/etc... yet when this happens the reportees are labeled whackjobs, conspiracy theorists, etc... as their version of events does not meet the "official" record.

I take real issue with the silencing of these "conspiracies" as without many of them we wouldn't have got to the truth.

While I don't think that there are deliberate plans to silence us, we do appear to be walking a fine line, and I don't see it taking much to push us the wrong way.

If JA/Labour win the election and run the economy the same way as they have tried to run/control the borders, then much financial turmoil will abound. However, financial turmoil and volatility is a stock market trader’s best friend. Always look for the silver lining.

Do some learning before you make such an inane comment, please. Much has been posted on this site, over a decade. Enough that we should be past worrying about 'the economy'.

Bother - and I'm guessing you will have to won't - to read this. All through. Dispassionately. Then ask who - if anyone - is future-appropriate.

Got an update on that article? The charts are 10 years old now so it might be interesting to see how it has tracked.

Your reply is very simplistic. I suspect you don’t understand the difference between a stock market speculator, trader and/or an investor.

Other than timeframe what is the difference?

Quick comparison
Financial reports = Racing guide
Company = Horse
Board = Trainer
CEO = Jockey
Past performance is no indication of future returns.

Listening and watching all the "investors" it is no different to seeing all the good ol' boys down at the TAB. All experts on what the future holds.

Hint: Don't let the suits and marketing fool you... It's all gambling, at least some of us are honest to admit it.

They seem to be doing a good job of it, gradually.


Great article.

The sequence of events leading up to the recent outbreak does appear suspicious. 100 days, then an abrupt step up in warnings with no explaination, quickly followed by an outbreak. There is no point denying the obvious. It looks dodgy. The fact that this all happened after the second wave was already circulating means it is possible it really could be dodgy.

But of course, just because it looks bad doesn't mean there actually is something being kept from us. However the PM did not handle that situation well IMHO. Politics is all about how things are made to appear after all.

Ramping up the warnings without a concrete reason for doing so exposed them to criticism.

It does feel a bit like TNZ in San Fran on 8 wins.

was it really 102 days, things we now know about that period, and the first case popped up 31st july so was never 100 days anyway
a lot of people were let out of quarantine without being tested and now testing is compulsory we have positive cases each week come across the border which early on that period we did not have one case?
no front line staff were tested unless they showed symptoms and what symptoms were required to make that happen?
we now know the worker coughed for two days and past health checks before being made to take a compulsory test
airline staff were doing international flights then flying domestic and some international airline staff are still not tested
port staff were not tested unless they showed symptoms
the amount of testing dropped to very low levels the lowest being 626
the DHB's all ran different levels of concern when it came to covid and have been reactive than proactive and have to be pushed along by the MOH every step of the way
so my conclusion is we fooled ourselves to think it was contained at the border and things were pretty safe and we could relax a bit
hopefully now they have learned another lesson they will set up level 2 covid bubble zones at the borders so the rest of us can go back to level one

ICYMI (OMG): Air Commodore Webb confirms just 40% of Covid-19 facility staff were tested prior to new outbreak

Funny that, at a time when the globalist ideology is most exposed as unworkable/broken, no one is prepared to address/front foot the issues and challenges of self-sufficiency that we find ourselves in presently.

In other words, no party seems willing to accept the world is looking at a new normal.

Yes, a lot of "Buy local", but where do I source that locally made phone, car, bicycle, clothing.

Also I am constrained by "Money". Do I get paid enough to source a handknitted local sweater to keep me warm? Nope, but I can sell the raw wool to a firm overseas, who can design, make, and ship back the same thing for 1/4 of the price. It's quite the riddle?

Globalisation has done exactly what was expected. Moved the world towards an equalibrium - unfortunately for the haves (First world nations) that equalibrium sits below our current standards.

Are we willing to give up some of our "lifestyle" to actually be able to live?

There will always be int'l transport of freight, I imagine but much more may need to come by sea - as I cannot see air travel numbers/frequency as per seen in the past, surviving this. I imagine that the few airlines that survive, might all have some kind of sovereign ownership. It was a commercially crowded - and somewhat less than viable industry before COVID.

So, self-sufficiency doesn't imply no int'l commerce whatsoever - far from it. But it does mean thought for alternative local manufacture and sourcing of many classes of goods needs to be given comprehensive consideration. Scarcity also needs to be factored in.

It's not whether we are 'willing' or not - it's more a reality we simply need to acknowledge, our lifestyles will change.

My grandmothers lifestyle was so very different than mine and I'm simply saying that that will be the case between me and my grandchildren as well. Excessive consumerism and financialization-of-everything does not necessarily mean a poorer lifestyle or lesser well-being. In fact there are many lifestyle benefits in seeking simplicity, minimalism, de-cluttering, do-it-yourself, re-using/re-purposing and so forth.

Resistance is futile.

Yes, I am looking forward to a Government-owned nuclear-powered commercial freight fleet. Zero-carbon, lotsa Jobs under Our Control, freight keeps moving, exports keep happening. Win-win-win-win. Can't wait.

Nah, much happier to remain nuclear-free. The waste problem that we leave with future generations is an absolute moral tragedy.

Kate, once the waste issue is addressed, can we count on your support for nuclear?


Don't think anyone is arguing for a complete lack of international trade. The point is more a move away from unsustainable consumption and geopolitical risk to greater security and less consumption.

You may not need a hand-knitted sweater, but neither do we really need fast fashion.

A party that gets too far out in front of where public opinion is, even if they're correct, won't be rewarded for it.

I'm not sure - I think most people welcome/respect innovators.

Funny, when NZ First announced their campaign slogan, 'Back your future' - I initially thought it said, 'Back to the future' and in many ways that would have shown some insight!

Kate, I would agree that we need to think about resilience, at all levels from individuals to communities to countries to continents. However, self-sufficiency is only achievable in the most basic form of life, even hunter-gatherers traded stuff with others. Our modern way of life largely depends on trading with other nations (you want NZ to produce cars, computers, phones, airplanes, satellites, software, fuel, drugs, etc on its own?). I do not think the new normal is closed up borders for ever and end of trading. On the contrary, most countries are just trying to buy time to see if a vaccine or a cure can be find to COVID-19, if this does not happen, sooner or later the new normal will be accepting COVID-19 needs to runs its course as we cannot continue to live isolated.

Self-sufficiency is nonsense if you want to have advanced civilizations. Civilization thrives on inter-dependencies. But there must be some resilience in place to temporary shocks to such inter-dependencies. However permanent and irreparable damage to such network means end of civilization.

Believer, I suspect even if we find a vaccine for this one, there will be another close on its heels. And if it's not a virus forcing future change, it will be climate, or disasters (whether human-induced or natural), or resource depletion, or currency collapse, etc. etc.

As I said above, I imagine there will always be int'l commence, or as you say, trading between nations - but I suspect far, far less than what we have seen since the advent of globalization.

In terms of your list - here are my thoughts on what NZ should look to produce:

Cars - no, we need to break with our dependency on imported fuel for our transport fleet, and break with our dependency on individual modes of transport. Bikes - yes; electric golf carts - yes; rapid PT - yes; rail - yes.

Computers - it is only since the advent of laptops/notebooks that NZ stopped assembling most of its PCs (e.g., Sharon Hunter of PC Direct). I could see us moving back into that in future.

Phones - hard to say - probably not.

Airplanes - small aircraft and helicopters - yes. Passenger carriers - no.

Satellites - yes
Software - yes
Fuel - for sure.
Drugs - for sure.

I think most of it still comes down to availability of resources. We simply don't have them (or at least easy access to them). So yes, we can "assemble" here, but we will struggle to be self sufficient.

In saying that I think we stand a better chance than most. We have surplus food, timber, water, electricity, and air. WIth good management (including population) we should fare quite well (Natural disasters aside).

I think our discussion need to be around city and population planning, instead. We know Chch is built on water, AKLD on volcanoes, and WGTN on a fault, and that we are probably 1-2 million over what our infrastructure was built for.

Good balanced article. I find it interesting that the vast majority of comments here are Labour v National. I watched David Seymour in Parliament yesterday. Excellent speech and he put forward other ideas which National is not doing.

My problem with our present situation is that no one is looking into the future and coming up with ideas to get us out of this mess. Labour are looking solely at the present problems and not addressing the long term problems at the same time. National are not coming up with concrete ideas either.

Based on ACTs 2IC article yesterday I would say they are also bereft of ideas.

Voting ACT this time for the party vote, first time ever because I want to see my vote count. Labour and National have lost the plot, or should I say they simply have no plans to start with. I have never been so disillusioned in my whole life with politics. I'm expecting ACT to romp home with a record number of seats in this election, not because they are outstandingly brilliant, its because the rest of the options are useless and totally incompetent and I wouldn't trust them to run a corner dairy or a fish and chip shop.

heading down teh same track -- despite disagreeing with many of their views -- but in reality David Seymour has been one of the most impressive politicians - and more importantly has offered ideas and policy into an otherwise bare cupboard.

For the first time ever - i could still be persuaded to vote for either main party - if only they came up with a coherent vision and plan -- even if i dont agree fully --current option 1 = we did covid well -- so ignore that 100,000 homes became 382 kiwi builds, housings list doubled , light rail never started so still no airport to city centre link , and mental Health is even more underfunded than it was three years ago - not to mention cancelling roads of national significance, quadrupling consents to send our best water overseas in plastic bottles ( greens minister that one) and borrowing 50 billion rising to 200 billion - and until Covid high immigration despite promising massive cuts

Option 2 - lets only build roads, a complete policy vacuum, overseas students, foreign buyers .... and wait -- oh nothing else really

That's a pretty reasonable account of the problems we face.

Housing lists would seem to be a symptom of the continued inflating of housing costs. They need to find their courage if re-elected and get stuck in on that problem. Tougher to do with Orr actively devaluing wages.

Elections are won in the middle. Nats need dynamic leadership like JK not Judith. Jacinda vs Judith is terrible optics of taking NZ into the future vs taking NZ back in time

Reasonable article, shame about the comments.

Some pertinent points made in the article about the currently evolving situation. But the comments section reveal shallow and partisan observations from the usual suspects. We are dealing with a very complex and novel situation and anyone who expects systems operated by fallible human beings to function perfectly is delusional. Consequently it is reasonable to expect problems to occur, and to expect them to be corrected expeditiously. It is not reasonable to engage in witch-hunting or scapegoating of people honestly doing their best to cope in a stressful and unprecedented situation. Some people need to grow up.

Thumbs up to that a second time :-).

Eliminating and keeping a prevalent contagious virus out of a population is very difficult. NZ has adopted a COVID-19 strategy which requires perfect execution.

And anyone who expects systems operated by fallible human beings to function perfectly is delusional.

Well, it would be nice if National actually had any decent policies and some actual credibility instead of just blatant dirty politics and finger pointing to gain power again
- they have no 'vision' for NZ, only self interest at heart... or that of their campaign contributors...

I made the mistake of voting for National once after the GFC, and they then:
- Opened the borders and flooded NZ with immigrants when our infrastructure was not able to cope with the influx, 10-12 years later the impact is still present - refer Aucklands traffic + housing + water issues...
- This massive influx of people caused a housing bubble that then pushed house prices in major cities up to 10x average NZ incomes and then expanded out to the regions due mainly to investors from major cities buying real estate in areas with higher yields - which in turn became a landlord/ house owners paradise
- Forced many families born in NZ to leave NZ cities that they could barely afford to rent in let alone save a 20% deposit on a $1mil home (without having both parents working full time - 1x purely to pay the mortgage +1x partner working to pay for lifestyle) mainly due to foreign money + speculators + easy credit to (now appreciating) asset owners

All in the name of self interest...

Same voted twice, but looking at house prices and the cost of living National has left us makes my heart sink. Life in NZ is hard. My two biggest costs are food and accommodation.

Lol, vote for us because they are incompetent - if we get in power we will... uh.....??

Here, I'll help.

We will... uh... miraculously turnout a whole new batch of civil servants than the current lot are working with. And we won't be paying them a living wage but they will be smarter and more efficient.

The National Party bills itself as the party of business and competency. However, since at least March its only real response to issues identified with the country’s covid-19 response has been to call for the resignations of various people carrying out that response. “Heads must roll”, including not just government Ministers, but also people working in crucial positions at the Ministry of Health.

Anyone who has ever worked in business, however, and been faced with problems arising in a system or process with significant complexity, including especially highly technical input and logistical challenges, knows that the last thing you do is remove crucial staff.

In fact, the opposite is likely to be the case. Staff who are carrying out activities that are found to be causing difficulty are often the best people to make the changes necessary to fix what has gone wrong.

There is also a fallacy in how our country views the availability of technical expertise. Not just politicians and the media, but also often the general public seem to think that technical specialists are like widgets; if something goes wrong you just discard the person and get someone else. As for working them until they're exhausted, who cares? Just get another one.

Again, managers who are actually involved in NZ businesses that rely on technical expertise will tell you the reverse is true. Technical specialists may be a dime a dozen in countries with much bigger populations, but in a country of 5 million with a long history of exporting its best and brightest, a solid and reliable person who really knows his/her stuff is like gold.

You do everything you can to keep them. You certainly don’t show them the door when something goes wrong. And you especially don't do it when the borders are effectively shut.

Real business people will tell you that to run complex, technical processes successfully you have to engage in continuous improvement, and be ready to use all your resources to fix problems whenever they arise.

It’s only those on the side-lines that think finger-pointing is somehow the answer. It seems to be a feature of our political life, especially in local government, but also in the National Party whenever it is out of power. It plays well to some voters, but the fact of the matter is that scape-goating is the lazy way out.

In this case Who do you count as the crucial staff under threat.
Give us your 3 or 4 and the irreplaceable talent they have.

As in all arguments the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Do you drop an All Black for one bad game, or do you trust the skills they have always had, or have they made consistent mistakes over time.

I have no idea here, but to me this is a complex and moving target, I do not be grudge the person in charge. The only comparison we have is to compare us to the rest of the worlds responses. NZ stacks up pretty well on that count. I have absolutely no faith in National.

Labour have not reduced house prices, and reduced immigration, but they have slowed down foreign investors. As for Covid, I think Jacinder stacks up very well. I think she will make the changes necessary to reduce another outbreak. Will there be another outbreak most likely as this is a hard thing to contain, but I would rather Jacinder then Judith.